While we would love to tell you that a CRM will boost your customer satisfaction and make your sales skyrocket through the roof, the truth is that having a customer relationship management system only represents one side of the customer service triangle.
Don’t forget to consider the strategy and staffing as well as your relationship management system when you look for ways to increase your customers’ satisfaction.
This blog is a guide to these three sides and how they can boost your company’s customer service.
We’ve written a lot on the importance of strategy with relation to software implementations and process changes. Whenever your organisation makes a commitment to change, you need to make sure that your corporate strategy reflects a dedication to those changes.
This isn’t something that all companies are doing, but it is something that all companies should be doing.
Why do you need a strategy?
Some companies approach customer service with instinct based or vague processes. These piecemeal customer service providers often rely on proactive individuals to define what good customer service looks like, figure out how to provide it and implement it.
These individualised approaches to customer service leave companies open to inconsistencies in their level of service. This can take the form of conflicting processes for handling customer complaints, a lack of customer follow up and monitoring or imprecise checks and balances across the business.
If you want to create a company that focuses on customer service, top management should be making customer care an intrinsic part of the business strategy and vision. While day-to-day service is fine in the hands of front-line staff, company leaders need to be supporting these staff members and spreading customer service messaging throughout the organisation.
Without a top-down strategy for customer service, customer-facing staff are left feeling that customer service is not important throughout all levels of the business.
What should your strategy include?
At a minimum, your strategy should include monitoring what customers want and how they are feeling. Use market research and personal contact to determine the former, and customer feedback (phone calls, questionnaires, the Net Promoter Score system) to determine the latter.
Customer service-focused businesses never make the mistake of second-guessing these points.
Your strategy should also include a way of using positive reviews and opinions to benefit your business. Any company can say that they offer great customer service (for a fun experiment, check out some B2B websites and see how many say just that), but pointing to concrete metrics, like a great NPS or CustomerSure score or customer testimonials, will give your statements more clout and encourage business growth.
When existing customers recognise your company for delivering good customer service your conversations with prospects are less focused on price.
Once you know what customers want, and use that information to inform your strategy, you need to focus on training your staff to anticipate and react to their needs and concerns.
New communication tools like social media and email have led to an unprecedented amount of direct contact between businesses and customers. As our MD Rowland Dexter puts it:
‘The internet has made it possible for disgruntled customers to make their feelings known to a wider audience. They don’t have to go to the trouble of writing a letter to the CEO anymore – they can vent their spleen by dashing off a knee-jerk one-star product review or a quickly-written tweet. ‘Word of mouth’ no longer means an individual grumbling to friends down the pub; it means communicating dissatisfaction to potentially hundreds or thousands of others.’
The visible impact of customer dissatisfaction on a business makes establishing a corporate focus on customer service even more necessary. This focus extends to the whole business, from product designers and factory operatives to account staff and customer service positions.
To do this effectively, you’ll want to recruit staff with customer service in mind. Not everyone has an attitude that is aligned with a corporate focus on customer service. Some successful businesses hire for attitude rather than skills. As Dexter puts it, “skills can be learned, but attitude, they argue, is ingrained.”
By making sure you have the best staff members to carry out your customer service strategy, you will have built a successful foundation for the third side of the customer service triangle.
The cherry on top of the customer service cake is systematising your outlook on customer service. There should be some sort of technical framework in place that all users can rely on for up to date information on their customers in order to better serve them. This may or may not be a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution.
Now we are not wholly unbiased; as CRM partners we’ve seen the impact a CRM system can make on an organisation. In Dexter’s experience, “I’d estimate that around half of businesses have some form of customer contact database, but many of those are so manually intensive and not efficiently shared so they don’t create a collective benefit for the business as a whole. The really successful businesses are those where CRM is not viewed as the ‘property’ of marketing or sales but as a centralised communication tool that will be of key importance to the business as a whole if used properly.”
If you’ve gone through the process of crafting a customer service strategy and hiring staff with a reliable outlook and attitude for customer service, you might be stopping yourself short if you continue to rely on Excel spreadsheets, paper customer files and other outdated methods of record keeping for information about your customers.
Companies that don’t have some sort of CRM will be hampered in their ability to provide customer service at the level they should (and would like to!) be giving.
As a parting note, Dexter has a piece of advice for all those business leaders looking to enhance customer service in their organisations:
‘While CRM systems can enhance customer relationships and customer service they can never replace them. CRM is an enabling technology that provides the data and administrative discipline to offer improved customer service – the best companies continue to strive for the personal relationships that in a digital world can really set them apart from the pack’”
By keeping all three sides of the triangle (strategy, staffing and system) in mind, you will be well placed to come out on top of your competition in terms of customer service.
For more information on customer service, or if you’d like to know more about what a CRM can do for your business, contact us here.